Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): March 24, 2011 - Following the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred in Japan on 11 March 2011, a number of problems have been reported at three Japanese nuclear power plants (Onagawa, Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini). Despite the efforts of the Japanese authorities, several explosions have occurred at these plants, resulting in the release of small amounts of radioactive material into the surrounding area. Further leaks may occur. Residents in a 20 km area surrounding the nuclear facility have been evacuated and people living between 20 and 30 km of the facility have now been advised to stay indoors.

Rumors have been circulating by text messaging and other means of a radiation cloud spreading across Asia and beyond from the damaged nuclear facilities in Japan. There is no evidence at this time of any significant international spread from the nuclear site. Members of the public are encouraged to take steps to halt these rumors, which are harmful to public morale.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which is mandated to assess public health risks and provide health advice in radiation events, is working closely with the government of Japan and the International Atomic Energy Agency. At this time it seems unlikely that significant amounts of radiation will affect areas outside of Japan. Therefore, at this time, there is no indication of any risk to FSM or any other Pacific Island areas.

The FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs is working closely with the World Health Organization and other public health authorities. At this time, we are not recommending any safety precautions.

Please note that "potassium iodide" pills, which are used in certain cases of radiation poisoning, are only recommended for people with very high exposure to radiation and should not be taken unless advised by authorities. The recommendation to stay indoors applies only to those people living within 30 km of the affected facility in Japan.

We will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves.